• D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG
rotating globe
  • D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
Semafor Logo
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG


Updated Feb 22, 2024, 6:08am EST
politics

U.S. House China committee chair visits Taiwan

Taiwan Presidential Office/Handout via REUTERS
PostEmailWhatsapp
Title icon

The News

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., chairman of the U.S. House select committee on China, is leading a congressional delegation to Taiwan in a bipartisan show of support for the island.

Gallagher told a news conference Thursday he was “confident that support for Taiwan will continue regardless” of the outcome of the 2024 presidential election, in which President Joe Biden is expected to face off against former President Donald Trump.

“The people of Taiwan should be confident that America stands with them even as we see through a very intense political season domestically,” he said.

AD

The delegation also includes the China committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., as well as Reps. John Moolenaar, R-Mich., Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., and Seth Moulton, D-Mass.

The lawmakers met with President-elect Lai Ching-te, outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen, and Vice President-elect Hsiao Bi-khim.

Title icon

Know More

The presence of U.S. lawmakers on the island was not welcomed by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which said it “always firmly opposes any form of official exchange between the United States and the Taiwan authorities and firmly opposes any interference in Taiwan affairs by any means or under any pretext.”

AD

There is robust support in Congress for defending Taiwan against threats from China. The select committee has focused in part on bolstering U.S. backing for the self-governed island in the event of a Chinese invasion, even conducting a war game to explore the responses to and consequences of such an event last year.

“Time and again Taiwan has shown the world how to stand up to the CCP’s bullying and not only survive, but thrive,” Gallagher said in a statement as the delegation landed in Taipei, referring to the Chinese Communist Party. “We are thrilled to be in Taipei to show our support for our friends in Taiwan, President-Elect Lai and the newly elected Legislative Yuan. The United States stands with Taiwan. By promoting deeper ties between our leaders and our economies we can enhance peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

In his own statement, Krishnamoorthi said the lawmakers would discuss how to deepen U.S.-Taiwan ties, and he encouraged “every country around the world that shares our commitment to democracy, human rights, and peace to deepen their own relationship with Taiwan.”

AD

The visit comes as tensions are flaring between China and Taiwan, after the Chinese coast guard boarded a Taiwanese tourist boat in what appeared to be a reaction to a separate incident in which two Chinese fishermen died.

Beijing claims Taiwan as its own territory, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping has repeatedly conveyed the government’s intent to “reunify” Taiwan with mainland China, even if force is necessary to do so.

During a recent interview with Semafor, Krishnamoorthi said he was concerned about the prospect of China invading or conducting a maritime blockade of Taiwan, and he urged Congress to pass a foreign aid package including assistance for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan that is currently stalled in Congress.

“We have to move very quickly to pass this supplemental but also do other things to make sure Taiwan has what it needs under the Taiwan Relations Act to defend itself and to deter and discourage any kind of military incursion,” he said during the interview earlier this month.

Congressional delegations to Taiwan have become routine, but have at times irked Beijing. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island in 2022, Beijing cut off military-to-military communications with Washington until the Biden administration worked to restore them late last year.

The Financial Times reported last week that Gallagher, a high-profile China hawk who recently announced plans to retire from Congress, planned to visit the island this week.

Semafor Logo
AD